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15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

Addiction is a snake that wraps around your neck, slithering and squeezing you tighter and tighter until you are gasping for air. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, video games, or the computer screen, you stand by helplessly watching your loved one morph into an unrecognizable creature. You are wide-awake in a nightmare.

If you love an addict, you feel as if your life is fading away. You are unable to sleep, eat, work, socialize, or maintain friendships. Nights are spent staring into darkness. Your imagination conjures up scenes of your addict lying in the street, hoping and praying that someone is sober enough to get her (or him) home safely. You are powerless, frustrated, and losing your own life as your loved one spirals deeper and deeper into addiction.

There are many different levels to the wild cycle of addiction. From denial, stealing, lying, and rock bottoms; with promises of change only to bounce back for just one more go round.

While the addict falls into the dungeons of darkness, you are dragged down with him. Everyone suffers.

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There is hope. Once you step back, you will be able to take positive action to get your life in order. Addiction causes chaos and confusion. In order to gain clarity and start your own healing process, ask yourself these questions.

1. What can I do?

Try as hard as you can to get your addict the help he/she needs. After you have exhausted every effort to get your loved one sober, you have to make the decision to live your life. You must take your own life back. It’s a decision you must make and remake daily. You deserve to live. You are still here.

2. How is this affecting the rest of my family and loved ones?

You probably don’t realize it, but there are other people in your life that need you, want you, and miss you. It’s easy to forget everyone else when every breath, step, and heartbeat of yours is being controlled by your addict’s choices.

3. Where’s the closest support group?

Find the closest support group-ASAP! The only person that understands what you are going through is someone who is going through the same thing. Friends try to help. People offer advice, but unless they are in the same situation, their words mean nothing. They do not understand your pain, fear, and helplessness.

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4. Who’s my 3:00 a.m. friend?

Sleepless nights are frightening. You need someone you can call in the middle of the night. Even if you never call her, you need to know that you can. You need someone who will wake up from a deep sleep, hear your voice, sit up and listen to you. Talking is important, but be careful not to become obsessive talking only about your addict. Sometimes the only one there for you at 3:00 a.m. is your Higher Power. No phone calls required.

5. How can I change?

Set a customized program for your day. Structure your life. As the addict needs to structure his, you need to live on a schedule. Having too much free time allows your mind to travel into the dungeon of darkness. Don’t go there. Don’t fall into the trap. Get out of bed, take a walk, go to the gym, pray, listen to podcasts, repeat inspiration mantras throughout the day. 12 step programs are the tried and true effective method for dealing with addiction. However, not everyone responds to them the same. Find the program that works for you and work it! Live it, breathe it, every moment of every day.

6. Will meditation help?

When your thoughts are running wild and your heart is racing, sitting still and focusing your thoughts is the last thing you want to do. You probably want to run away from thoughts, not run into them. Ironically, the process of meditation benefits your negative thoughts, fears, and anxiety.

Meditation has many forms. A daily walk while reciting prayers or words of comfort (mantras work great) is also a form of meditation. Learn to comfort yourself. Have a toolbox of actions to take that will calm you when your heart starts pounding and your mind starts racing. Daily meditation is an exercise for your mind. It is a mind muscle that allows you to control your thoughts.

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7. How is my breathing?

Addiction takes your breath away, literally. You don’t realize that when you spend most of your day worried about where your addict is, what she is doing, and if she’s okay; that you forget to breathe. Learn breathing techniques. QiGong, pranayama, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Thich Nhat Hanh all have easy to follow breathing exercises that work.  If you practice them daily, you will benefit immediately.

8. When was the last time I laughed?

Addiction is also a thief that robs you of all joy, and takes away your smile. One of the simplest joys in life is laughter. Laughter is non-existent. Your smile has disappeared. You can’t remember the last time you had fun.

9. Do I love myself?

Love yourself enough to take back your own life. You deserve to live. You are alive. Start to live again. Separate yourself from your addict. Give the addict his own life to live. You can’t control it. You didn’t cause it. You can’t change it. Learn to detach. It doesn’t mean you are taking your love away. It means you are helpless and the addict has to figure out how to he wants to live his life.

10. What is my role in my addict’s life?

It’s hard to admit but often people who love addicts become addicted to their addict. You think about your loved one every minute of the day and night. You are one. There’s so separation between you. Co-dependency is unhealthy compassion in disguise.

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11. Do I have healthy boundaries?

People who love addicts have a hard time setting limits. Loving, kind people have trouble saying no. They are givers who love passionately. Healthy boundaries are necessary for important decisions that you have to make regarding money, food, and where they will sleep.

12. Is my addict strong enough to survive on his own?

Addicts are slick, smart, strong, and tough. Don’t underestimate an addict’s ability to maneuver through situations. If they can handle addiction, they can handle anything. This is also their strength, their potential for greatness, once they get clean.

13. How do I surrender?

Let it go, all of it. Stop clinging to your dreams, desires, plans and schemes. You don’t know what’s best, even though you think you do. Letting go is a mantra; a chant that gets you through the pain, the fear, and the darkness. Repeat it over and over until you believe it. Let it permeate every cell of your being. Letting go is freedom.

14. What if I don’t have a Higher Power?

Find one. You cannot go through this alone. Whether it’s your religious beliefs or a “power greater than yourself,” you have to have someone to talk to when no one else is there. You have to pray to something and believe that your prayers will be heard. You have to believe that miracles can happen, because they do.

15. Can I survive this?

Yes! You will survive. You will smile again. You will laugh again. You will breathe again. Wake up early, go out and watch the sun rise. Look at the stars and the moon at night. Open your eyes and look around you. See all the people who surround you with love. Hug them, hold on to them. Open up your heart. Love again. Live again.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How irrational fears impact your life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why bother to fight the fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to fight your irrational fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why did this happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The tool kit

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m awesome

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out your emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge that you need to change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose your words carefully.

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe that you have the control power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up physical reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t go it alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

A little fear can be good

As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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